At last week's Systems, Cities, and Sustainable Mobility summit in Pasadena, Calif., Raul-David Poblano of MIT announced that the RoboScooter is moving toward commercial production. The RoboScooter, developed by the MIT Media Laboratory, Sanyang Motors, and Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute, is an electric scooter designed for cities. The goal of the program is to provide clean transportation for congested urban areas. RoboScooters would sit in charging racks at key points in cities. Users could swipe a credit card, get a scooter, and ride it across town, bringing it to another rack. Once the RoboScooter is put back in a rack, the user's credit card deposit gets returned. There could also be a nominal rental fee. MIT suggests putting GPS chips in the scooters to keep track of them.
The scooter uses in-wheel motors to save weight and space, while making the energy transfer to the wheel more efficient. Because of this design, the RoboScooter can be folded, making them easier to store or drag up stairs. A prototype of the RoboScooter met a positive reception at the Milan Auto Show last year.
(Source: Green Car Congress)